Rock Music & the Occult and Opinions on Stevie Nicks

Jim and Greg celebrate Halloween by dabbling in the dark arts with Peter Bebergal, author of Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll. Later they review a new release from Fleetwood Mac enchantress Stevie Nicks.

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Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" has generated $562 million over the years and unsurprisingly, somebody wants a piece of it. Heirs to Randy California, the bandleader of the group Spirit, filed a lawsuit against Zeppelin claiming that Zep stole chords from Spirit's 1968 track "Taurus." While the judge is allowing the suit to go forward, the matter of Zeppelin's legendary“paraphrasing”is likely to be settled out of court.

Speaking of Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney announced on Twitter that he once collaborated with drummer John Bonham. They worked on the Wings' song "Beware My Love," which is available for purchase on McCartney's reissue of 1976's Wings at the Speed of Sound. Though Jim humorously laments that not even John Bonham can save this Wings song.


Rock & The Occult

occultcover Ozzy Osbourne famously serenaded "Mr. Crowley," in his 1980 track. But, poet, novelist and noted occultist Alesteir Crowley has been name-checked, celebrated and explored in hundreds of rock songs. And he's just one example of how the occult has influenced rock and roll, or how it saved it, according to author Peter Bebergal. He talks to Jim and Greg about his new book Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll on this Halloween edition of the show. First off, we're not talking about satanism here. There's no great definition of“occult,”because it carries so much baggage. But Bebergal explains that occult beliefs are a conglomerate of bits of mythology, religion and actual experience, which take the form of mystical or other states of altered consciousness. Despite darker connotations, occult beliefs attempt to understand reality in a way traditional religious practice cannot or chooses not to explore.

Then Jim and Greg get into the music. The occult has trickled into popular music since early blues recordings at the beginning of the last century. That evolved into the hoodoo-inspired sounds of Elvis Presley, the mystical references to the east in the music of The Beatles and Led Zeppelin and even the Illuminati imagery of modern hip-hop.

For more great occult tunes, check out Peter Bebergal's playlist by following us at Beats Music.

review24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault available on iTunes

Stevie Nicks 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault

The "Welsh Witch", Stevie Nicks, is back with her eighth solo studio album called 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault, and as the title suggests, the record features new recordings of old songs Nicks has kept locked away since the late 1960's. To reimagine the decades-old tracks, she's enlisted the help of a squeaky clean Nashville backing band and squeky clean pop stars like Lady Antebellum and Vanessa Carlton. Jim is not a fan of these choices. He misses the old Stevie's Celtic folk feel and her ethereal voice, which is now starting to show its age. Jim knows the Stevie Nicks-faithful will still want to try the album, but its mediocre songs and altered star make it a Trash It for the rest of us. Greg also misses Nicks‘ distinctive personality and tires of the album’s inability to turn her meandering ideas into more shapely pop songs. Greg credits Nicks' former love and Fleetwood Mac bandmate Lindsey Buckingham for helping her achieve that in the past, but he's nowhere to be found on this record; except in many of the song's lyrics, which provide a sometimes uncomfortably voyeristic window into the couple's storied relationship. That said, the stripped-down piano and "Landslide"-like vocals on the song "Lady" are impressive, so Greg gives 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault a conditional Try It.


Featured Songs

  1. Spirit, Taurus, Spirit, Epic, 1968
  2. Wings, Beware My Love, Wings at the Speed of Sound (Deluxe Edition), Hear Music, 2014
  3. Ozzy Osbourne, Mr Crowley, Mr Crowley (Single), Epic, 1980
  4. Little Richard, Keep a Knockin', The Incredible Little Richard Sings His Greatest Hits – Live!, Modern Records, 1966
  5. H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness, H.P. Lovecraft II, Philips, 1968
  6. Led Zeppelin, Immigrant Song, Led Zeppelin III, Atlantic, 1970
  7. Led Zeppelin, The Battle of Evermore, Led Zeppelin IV, Atlantic, 1971
  8. Ronald Dyson and Company, Aquarius, The Age of Aquarius, Soul City, 1969
  9. Pink Floyd, Chapter 24, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, EMI Columbia, 1967
  10. Pink Floyd, Lucifer Sam, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, EMI Columbia, 1967
  11. Coven, The White Witch of Rose Hall, Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls, Mercury Records, 1969
  12. Kiss, God of Thunder, Destroyer, Casablanca, 1976
  13. Jay-Z, Heaven, Magna Carta Holy Grail, Roc-A-Fella, 2013
  14. Can, Aumgn, Tago Mago, United Artists, 1971
  15. Sunn O))), Candlewolf of the Golden Chalice, Candlewolf of the Golden Chalice, Anti-Mosh, 2004
  16. Broadcast and The Focus Group, a seancing song, Broadcast And The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age, Warp Records, 2009
  17. Bauhaus, Bela Lugosi's Dead, Press Eject and Give Me the Tape, Beggars Banquet, 1982
  18. Stevie Nicks, 24 Karat Gold, 24 Karat Gold – Songs from the Vault, Reprise, 2014
  19. Stevie Nicks, Hard Advice, 24 Karat Gold – Songs from the Vault, Reprise, 2014
  20. Stevie Nicks, Lady, 24 Karat Gold – Songs from the Vault, Reprise, 2014
  21. Electric Light Orchestra, Telephone Line, A New World Record, United Artists, 1976
  22. Sturgill Simpson, Turtles All the Way Down, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, High Top Mountain, 2014
  23. Man Man, Head On, On Oni Pond, Anti Records, 2013
  24. The Extraordinaires, Blue Moon, Dress for Nasty Weather, Color Theory Records, 2014

Footnotes Spirit Vs. Led Zeppelin Paul McCartney + John Bonham Peter Bebergal Season of the Witch Stevie Nicks Lindsey Buckingham on Sound Opinions